Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Marketing advise to marketing "professionals"

I'm in the process of assisting in the selection/interviews of several marketing companies for various tasks for the company I work for.  We're looking for someone to revamp our corporate website and create a new e-business site/portal.  In addition, we're considering outsourcing all of our social media.  It is a big project with a lot of follow-on work.  Good business for whatever company we select.

In the course of interviewing marketing firms, I have become really frustrated.  We flat-out fired our former marketing company and they didn't even know what hit them.  We just paid our bills and stopped answering their calls.  And then scrapped most of what they had given us.  Not my call to provide a play-by-play after-action report to the marketeers.  If anything, they should contact us and politely ask for a debriefing.  But alas, they won't... because stupidity got them to where they are now.

I have come to the conclusion that most marketing companies in Kuwait don't have a CLUE what they are doing.  The (Kuwaiti) owner of our company is convinced that there is (in his words), ..."no talent in Kuwait."  That's sad.  I know there is, but for the love of God, I wish the talent would get their shit together on the business end of their house.  As it is, we are now interviewing international marketing companies outside of Kuwait because the calibre of "service" was so bad in Kuwait.

So, I'm going to provide a little Desert Girl free marketing advise to marketing firms in Kuwait that might help you in the long run:

Get your business in order before you start preaching to other businesses about their business
AKA:  How ya gonna market my business if you can't market your own?

Business Cards
Excuse me, but never ever ever go to a meeting without a business card in hand.  If I'm out of work/looking for work and have enough money to get business cards or food - I get business cards.  It's the impression.   Kinkos can design them and print them for under 20KD. First impressions are everything.  My first impression when a "marketing company" walks into my office for a meeting without a business card?  LOOOOSERS.  You've already lost the business.

I can create a basic website on godaddy.com in about 2 hours.  You can too.  How the Hell can you walk into a client's office, preaching about websites when you don't even have one or it is "under construction"?  What kind of impression does that give?  You can have 3 people working in your office and have an amaaaaaaazing website and no one will know/give a crap.  The trick is in (get this):  MARKETING YOURSELF.

(If you just opened up shop, don't go to a meeting until you have your house in order. You're not ready yet.)

Nothing comes up on a Google Search
Em, I do due diligence.  I do reference and background checks.  At the very least, I check out your name and your company name on google.  If you don't have your act together and either nothing comes up, or you have something unprofessional that you might not want others to see (like drunken photos on Facebook, for example), you have just lost my business.

Phucked Up LinkedIn Profiles
I don't want to look you up on LinkedIn to see your sexy party-pouty face and a 1-liner about how you have a PhD in Marketing from some school in the Philippines (even though you're Lebanese and from the looks of it, you've never lived in Asia).  My bullshit detectors go into overdrive.

No Marketing Documentation
Okay, so I can kindof-almost-even understand how you might not have a company profile or brochure to hand me (but not really), but if you can't even take the time to create a Powerpoint presentation to either hand me or show me.... LOOOOSERS. And seriously - you can't find a stapler?  You have to hold it together with a binder clip and hand it to me that way?  Fer real?

Proper Proposals
When I ask you for a proposal, I want a real proposal:  TOC maybe, About us, Methodology, Technical Capability, Past Performance,  References (you should already have a list to provide - your customer shouldn't even have to ask), and Price.  It should come as an attachment on your letterhead, signed, and not as part of an e-mail.  Which leads me to another point - oh yeah....

No domain name
What the Hell are you thinking giving me a yahoo or hotmail or gmail e-mail address?  At this point, just to F with them, I ask for a copy of the "marketing company's" business license (giggles).  Depending on my attitude that day, I might even ask for company financials just to be bitchy.  Tee hee.

(Don't bullshit a bullshitter.)

Body Language
Oh, this is a big pet peeve with me. 
Do's:  Firm handshake.  Direct eye contact.  Smiles.   Keep it all light and friendly and professional.  And puhleeze... don't tell me that a limp-wristed handshake is "cultural" when you're wearing spandex and denim (that is "cultural"?)

Don't's:  So, Marketing Company sends Cute Girlie with Tight Pants and Too-Tight Shirt.  She's all cutesy and sparkly and  gives her business card - with NO e-mail address - to every man in the room and neglects giving me one.  I assume she assumes I'm the secretary, come in to take notes. She doesn't realize I'm the one she has to get by before the men in the room will even take notice. Ok, so Miss Sexypants sits down and as soon as the technical questions get too difficult or she doesn't agree, she crosses her arms tightly in front of her.  Tighten, release; tighten, release.  What signal does this give off?   She's defensive. She doesn't like what she hears.  We can all read her and she has no clue.  Bitch please!  Read up on body language on the internet.  Learn how to effectively and professionally conduct yourself in a business meeting. Nobody is going to care about your taa taas if you don't know your stuff.

Gender Gap
Women are often women's worst enemies (on both the customer and provider side).  Don't make false assumptions about the other women in the room.  That woman over there wearing a T-shirt and a pair of jeans might just be the owner of the company.  She got her undergrad at Yale and has a law degree from Harvard.  She looks like she's about 12 and totally uninterested.  She'll be the one driving out of the parking lot in that Bently that you wrongly assumed belongs to somehotguy.  BAM!  She just got you.  Don't ASSume.  Everyone is of equal importance.  Thank the frickin tea boy.  Make an impression.

And by the way, it is ok for your customer to wear jeans to a meeting because your customer is always right.  It is NOT ok for you (male or female) to go to a meeting/presentation wearing jeans.  It is disrespectful and rude.  (I also find bimbos in titty-shirts offensive, but that's just me.)

And (male or female), make the secretary or receptionist your best friend (because he or she will help you later when you need to get a phone call through or a payment made).  (This goes for you job applicants too.  I always go out after a candidate has left and ask the secretary or the receptionist their impression of the candidate.  Were they rude?  Were they kind?)

Recently, I had a male marketeer call me right before his big presentation to tell me that he was religious and wouldn't shake my hand in the meeting.  He was well-intentioned, but it backfired because of his demeanor during the call. I'm the customer.   Personally, I don't think that uber-religious people should be in marketing positions because they are there to sell and you may offend someone.  I've been working in the Middle East for 16 years and I understand the cultural aspect, but if he had walked into an American company and said that to a female manager he had a meeting with... well... not so cool.  You don't have to call ahead.  Just turn it into something funny by saying, "I'm kinda religious, so virtual handshake...." Something like that.  Reach a common ground with humor.  You  (as a marketeer) are there to win friends, not alienate people.

The Customer is Always Right
We're going to give you revisions. Count on it.  Put it into  your proposal.  Price it.  We don't care.  But, don't shut us down and say that we CAN'T do something.  If we want to make 11 million small changes and we ask for 8 different options:  give it to us. This is your opportunity to (get this concept...) make money.  Price it. The customer is always right.  You can give your recommendations, but ultimately, the person with the cash is the one who is calling the shots.

Your Blah Blah Blah Degree and X number of Years of Marketing Experience doesn't mean squat to me
Pretentious and insecure people have to start talking about degrees and years of experience (that's right, whip it out...)  Why don't you just laminate that degree and wear it on a big gold chain?  If you don't make a good impression, I'm not going to be impressed by your education or experience.  You haven't shown me that you are knowledgeable if you are guilty of any of the offenses above.  And - in many cases - many of the people you are presenting to in the room (not me, I'm frickin illiterate) probably have a higher education or IQ than you do.  How do you know they don't?   Never ASSume anything.  Talk is just talk.  I don't have a marketing degree and I am not impressed by people who whip theirs out doring a meeting.  (Snore.)

In Conclusion
Do you know what I do if I really really really want a job I've just interviewed for?  I suck up:  I send the people I have interviewed with flowers, thanking them for the opportunity to present myself.  9 times out of 10, it works.  Why can't people show gratitude?  Gratitude is a HellofaThang.  People remember you.  Send a thank you card (not an e-mail, that's just low-class).  Send an executive gift or some chocolates.  See a picture of their kids on the desk?  Send toys for the kiddies.  Do SOMETHING that will set you apart from the competion.  So what if they decide not to do business with you right NOW.  Maybe the timing isn't right.  But you've made an impression and they will remember you and call you later when the time IS right.

If the customer has to call you to ask you for your proposal or the next step, that's just bad business.  They = customer.  You = provider.  Put your big girl panties on and deal with it.

So, that thar is Desert Girl's Marketing Advice and Pet Peeves 101, children.  I thought I would write about it while I had had several caffiene pills and Turkish coffees.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I think the marketing in Dubai is excellent. Sometimes, they over market, it is sooooooo refreshing down there. You are going there for 10 days, so why don't you look up some advertising companies there? The marketing in Kuwait is horrendous, just hang it up and go where you will be pleasantly surprised with the level of professionalism. You do have to be careful, but at least you will have options.

RobW said...

If it's any consolation (probably not), based on my own experience I would say that most of the construction contractors in the country, along with supply companies, are abysmal too.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I think you should of had a picture of Mad Men at the top:)

utopianarch said...

Amazingly true, every word of it. I would like to contribute to improving the design of brochures and branding services for marketing by providing a professional service to the customer, if that is what one would be looking for. Do contact me for the same. I am a freelancer, architect / designer who prefers contemporary designs to deliver the message clearly and beautifully. Do drop me a line for that "WOW" effect. You will not be dissapointed :).

Anonymous said...

Forget about the customer is always right, here it doesnt exist. Here the customer seems to be the last on the list of considerations. Even just going to the coop the deodorant delinquent workers are in the way with shopping carts full of cardboard boxes and products in the aisle and in the way. Oblivious to the idea that they should get out of the way.
Ever try to get your money back for anything, they'd rather cut off their ear than give money back. Consider Alghanim, we bought a stove which they gave us false information about, we ended up changing it for a cheaper stove, they wouldnt give us the money back we had to get store credit, it was 45 dinars and they dont have 45 dinar coupons so we had to give them 5 dinars to make it a 50 dinar coupon. G

Chirp said...

First of all, happy belated birthday!

You know what's also bad, when they send you something translated into English without checking for grammatical or spelling errors.

and to Anon 8:49 - I once bought a small fridge from Alghanim that cost approx. 20 KD if not less, and they came a day BEFORE delivery to collect the money, while on their website it said payment on delivery is fine. Way to trust your customers!
Also, I once ordered a cake from a well known bakery in Kuwait, and they called me the next day told me that if I wanted it delivered I would have to come to the store and pay even though I was there the day before putting in my order. Anyways I had asked them to deliver it at a certain time and they were 4 hours late. When I would call the store asking for my cake the sales lady told me that if I didn't want it I could cancel it! When I complained about their lack of customer service on social media, they called me and asked me to remove my post! Instead of trying to understand what went wrong or apologing. That was 3 years ago and I never ordered from them again.

NYC Expat said...

LMAO! Hilarious as usual... but all true.

One thing though about the firm handshake. When I first arrived in Kuwait fresh out of NY about a year ago, I went to a meeting and as soon as I walked in I stuck my hand out and proceeded towards the hijab-ed lady across the room. Big mistake, it turned out. Since then, I extend my hand only AFTER one is proffered.

Anonymous said...

I could go on and on about Alghanim. We've had so much trouble with their online department, once it took 7 days to get our order, another time they brought a product we didnt order and then when we complained they INSISTED they dont even carry that product. Then they agreed to come and get it and exchange it for what we really ordered, never ever should up. So we decided to never order online again from them. Nope that didnt work because when my sons camera broke they couldnt replace it so they gave us the money by store credit online. So now we just orderd a playstation and AMAZINGLY they called right away after the order , said it would be here the next day, called and 3 and said they would be here at 3:30, showed up at 3:45 and everything is fine. I hope it stays this way now. Just a side note... When The camera that ended up breaking was first brought to us it was a display model with filming done by customers inside the store! We called and they picked it up and brought a new one. We have always paid when they bring the merchandise though. G

Gela said...

DG, I was cracking UP when I read this! I'm actually taking a Marketing Management course this semester for MBA and would like to share your info with my professor.
Thanks for making me laugh. The sad thing is, I was laughing because everything you wrote about is true.

Desert Girl said...

Gela - Share at will. I'm glad something other than my face made someone laugh today! :)

Faraz Qadri said...

In all honesty.. I still kinda feel Kuwait needs to let go of this Hala habibi and Wasta thing out of the line.. i have lived for over 17 years in kuwait right from my schooling till i moved to the US. I had a choice of coming back to kuwait or go somewhere else and opted out for someplace else. because sometimes i feel i am not the right fit for kuwait. I am simple straight forward and love doing business the american way.which is to the point . instead of hala habibi. and push posh ..

Gela said...

Oh, stop! I've seen your photo, and you're beautiful. I highly doubt anyone laughs at your face.

Anonymous said...

Because Client has the money it doesnt give him the right to do and undo as he pleases... like a child playing with a toy. You are assuming all the time that the provider is below the quality of your company... this can, or cant be; What if is the other way around? Many providers are actually much bigger in resources&talent&formation than their clients. You should be more humble. There is serious chance to learn from providers, actually.


Desert Girl said...

Anonymous (Cheers) - It sounds like you are a marketeer which only proves my point, especially in the copy-writing capability. The customer can do whatever he/she wants. If you don't like it, get out of business OR write a PROPER contract stating the number of changes allowable and then bill for any additional changes. If a marketeer feels I should be more "humble" I will move on to another agency.

Desert Girl said...

Oh by the by - I AM learning from marketing individuals and companies every day. Usually it is on "what not to do." With all the knowledge I have, I could open my own firm.

Nawaf AL-Rudaini said...

I'm glad to find someone who thinks that the advertising & marketing sector in Kuwait are in need of a huge overhaul. I greatly enjoyed your post :)

Anonymous said...

ha! i love this!!! gawd, people should read and re-read this!!!